His stomach dropped as her words registered. Bile surged up in his throat, but he swallowed it down and met her eyes. The resignation in her gaze nearly unmanned him.
“Why are you just telling me this?” It was impossible to keep his voice from cracking as he spoke.
Pain rippled across her face before she looked away to glance out the window. Her lips parted in a sigh that made him want to reach out and offer her comfort, but he was barely holding it together.
“I didn’t want to hurt you–”
“You’re hurting me now,” he screamed at her, uncaring at the tears that shimmered in her eyes.
She looked frail then, so painfully vulnerable that the look of it finally sliced through his hurt. He reached across the space separating them and grabbed her hand in a hard grip. She gave a squeeze back and they both sat in anguished silence
He stared at her hand resting in his. She’d always had delicate fingers, piano hands she’d say. Her skin was so soft as he stroked his thumb along the pulse at her wrist.
There was no finishing the sentence. He knew from the way her tears fell there was no easy fix.
“Just love me while there’s still time.” She drew a hand across her face.
The question threatened to choke him, but he pushed it from his clogged throat, “how long do you have?”
A watery smile appeared on her face, the look almost serene. “One to three months, if I’m lucky.”
The truth of it crushed him all over again. His own tears surfaced then and he couldn’t stop them from falling like steady rain down his face.
Pulling himself together took work, but he managed. Plastering on a smile, he drew her hand to his heart.
“Then we’ll just have to use our time wisely.”